Commissioner's Blog

Oakville Rock expecting big things in 2015

May 25, 2015

The Oakville Rock lost their GM Terry Sanderson during the off season. Terry had been building the team to become one of the top challenger's in the Major Series Lacrosse league. His replacement at the General Manager position is his son Josh Sanderson, one of the best lacrosse players in recent history and still a star with the Toronto Rock of the NLL.

The Rock's roster shows that at least 9 new players have been added. High scoring Brett Hickey, a 50 goal scorer for the Toronto Rock, is joining the team after a trade with Kitchener; Brodie Merrill, a top defensive player, is another addition; and Steve Fryer joins their goaltending staff.

Returning players like high-scoring Stephan LeBlanc, tough-nosed defender Bill Howstrawser, and Jason and Jeremy Noble are back.

In 2014, the Oakville club was most competitive and most unlucky as they lost eight of their 18 games by two goals or less and lost two one-goal games at the end of the season to the Mann Cup champion Six Nations Chiefs.

 It is expected that the Oakville Rock will be a top contender in the coming season. They are a team that features speed, toughness and a strong desire to win. They open the season on Wednesday, May 27 at Brooklin. The following Monday, June 1, is the Rock's home opener against the Brampton Excelsiors. If it's excitement that you want, watching this tough young team will give it to you.

Welcome to the 2015 season!
April, 2015

The Major Series Lacrosse league has been preparing for the opening of the 2015 season with many management changes. The 2015 draft of Junior players has taken place and the schedule has been set up for an 18-game draw.

The 2014 season was the closest and most competitive in recent years. It wasn’t until the last game was played that positions two through five were decided.

The Canadian Mann Cup championship was won by Six Nations which just beat out Oakville Rock for the final playoff position in Ontario. In preparing for the 2015 season, which will be even more competitive than last year, teams have made some changes to hopefully improve their standing.

The Brampton Excelsiors hired Paul Stewart of the Brooklin Redmen to be their head coach in the coming season. Paul has worked with Brooklin the past two seasons when they ended up in first place and their coaching staff was picked as coaches of the year. Brampton will be a young team, having added several Junior stars to their lineup.

Oakville Rock has several organizational changes due to the tragic passing of Terry Sanderson in the off-season. His position as general manager has been taken over by Josh Sanderson (Terry’s son) who is still one of the best lacrosse players in the world. Oakville narrowly missed the final playoff spot last year. Eight of their losing games were decided by one or two goals and they just kept getting better. Without question they will be challenging every team in the coming season.

The Brooklin Redmen led once again by Wayne Colley and reinforced with two new assistant coaches, Brad MacArthur and Gil Nieuwendyk will once again be a team to beat. Shawn Williams is returning and will provide leadership for the Redmen.

The Peterborough Lakers had a devastating off-season with complete changes in their executive and management of the team. Ted Higgins has worked vigorously to fill in the gaps left to him. He has announced that Paul Day is taking over the position of general manager previous held by Joe Sullivan. Paul is well known in lacrosse circles as a successful coach and manager at all levels. The Lakers are loaded with outstanding lacrosse players led by Shawn Evans, John Grant, and goaltender Matt Vinc. Paul Day’s announcement of his coaching staff appointments led by Mike Hasen who only seems to know how to win championships along with new assistants Mike Accursi and Tracy Kelusky finishes off a wonderful rebuilding job by Ted Higgins.

Kitchener-Waterloo had its best season in 2014 fielding a young fast vigorous team. They have added seven new players that they obtained in the 2015 draft. They will only be stronger coming out of the gate and will improve as the season moves along. Steve Dietrich will continue as the general manager and coach.

Duane Jacobs, coach of the Six Nations Chiefs, who have won the Canadian championship Mann Cup the last two seasons is returning as the general manager along with his head coach, Rich Kilgour. They will be a strong team again as they make their play to become a three-time national champion.

There will be no sure games during the season as every team that goes on the floor will be capable of winning the game. The fans will be treated to the most competitive lacrosse that the game has seen in years.

Jim Brady

Competitive 2014 regular season drawing to a close
July 28, 2014

The 2014 Major Series Lacrosse league is just completing the most competitive season that they have ever had in recent memory. No team going into a game had a sure thing. At any time the lower-ranked team was quite capable of pulling off what might have been called an upset victory. One goal games became the rule rather than the exception.
Our goal in major for 2014 was to create a competitive league and we have been successful. Oakville Rock, the last place club in 2013, were probably involved in more one goal games or overtime than any other club and unfortunately lost most of the close games. Yet here we are in our last week of the season and Oakville still has a chance to beat out Six Nations for the last playoff spot.
Brampton, who have lost many of their team leaders, have still put up difficult battles for the top predicted teams and won one very significant game against Brooklin in overtime in Brampton. The team effort everyday has been there but the lack of veteran players have made it tough for them to achieve.
Kitchener Waterloo, predicted to be a challenger in 2014, have proven to be just that. They have victories over every team in the league and have clinched a playoff position by defeating Brooklin in the KW arena on Sunday. A full season by Ryan Benesch, strong defense, good loose ball work and team speed have kept them in every game. Their goaltending led by Steve Fryer and Dillon Ward--the most valuable player in the recent world field lacrosse championships--have made it a difficult team to score against. No question they will be heard from in the playoffs.
Six Nations Chiefs, the present Mann cup champions, have had a very difficult season due to the nine players that represented their nations in the world field championships. A significant loss also was a lack a games played by Colin Doyle and Rory Smith due to injuries. As a result we are down to the last week of the schedule and Six Nations have not yet clinched a playoff position.
The Peterborough Lakers have had an outstanding season and would have been battling for first place if not for being penalized for an early season mistake. Regardless of this disadvantage they have shown the typical Peterborough determination to be the best. Mark Steenhuis, well-known for his defensive abilities and penalty killing, turned himself into a scoring machine and led the league in scoring by a significant amount. Joe Sullivan, the new Peterborough general manager, made a deal to obtain goaltender Matt Vinc who has added significant strength in the Peterborough nets.
Brooklin Redmen clinched first place with less than two weeks left. Newcomers to the team such as Shayne Jackson, Curtis Knight, Dan Lintner, Mark Cockerton, Graeme Hossack and others have added youth, speed and scoring abilities to the club. They will be a very difficult team to beat in the playoffs.
This is been a great season for the Major Series Lacrosse league and the playoffs will be in doubt no matter who is playing each other. Major Series Lacrosse is the best indoor lacrosse in the world and, this season, no team is a sure thing. Come out and enjoy!!

Trades changing lineups around MSL
May 23, 2014 

The 2014 major series lacrosse league has seen significant player movement by the means of trades between the six teams that make up the league. 29 players have changed from their original teams to new teams. Two of the players have moved twice.

Oakville has been the busiest team closely followed by Kitchener Waterloo. The Rock have added nine new names to their try out list. They are Scott Johnston, Brad Gillies, Ethan O’Connor, Mike Lum–Walker, Damon Edwards, Jordan Macintosh, Hayden Smith, Jeremy Noble, Jason Noble, and Bill Hostrawser. Hayden Smith, originally from Brampton, was subsequently traded to Kitchener Waterloo.

Oakville has also added draft choices and CLA transfers to their lineup. Making the lineup for the Rock during this season may be an extremely hard job.

Kitchener Waterloo has also made significant additions which will make them even more competitive than they were in 2013 and they were very competitive. Players added by means of trade are Darryl Veltman, Jay Card, Dean Hill (traded to Six Nations), Jake Quarrie, John Quarrie, Hayden Smith, A.J. Masson, Mike Woods, and Logan Schuss. It is expected that the addition of these players plus returning players from the West will enable KW to do even better in the 2014 season.

Brampton has picked up six new candidates through their trade efforts. These are goaltender Tye Belanger, Conor Daly, Justin Pychel, Pat Saunders, Jim Purves, and Jack Donnely. The Excelsiors expect these moves and their draft choices to put them right back in competition in 2014.

Brooklyn made two trades bringing Andrew Smistad and Graeme Hossack into their lineup. The Redmen will benefit from the graduating juniors of the Whitby Warriors, the Minto cup champions in 2013.

Peterborough made two trades also but they were most significant as they added high-scoring Adam Jones and goaltender Matt Vinc who is considered one of the best goaltenders in the game. These trades will make the strong Peterborough team even more competitive.

The Mann cup champions from Six Nations may be even stronger in 2014 because of the additions of Jeff Shattler and Dean Hill. They expect that graduating juniors will put even more pressure on the returning players as they make every effort to defend their Canadian championship.

In what was an extremely competitive season in 2013 will be even more competitive in 2014 because of the trades, draft choices, graduating juniors and returning players from the West. The MSL league starts 2014 play on Thursday May 29 in Peterborough. It looks like no game will be a sure thing for any team.

Just over a month till 2014 Season kicks off

Thursday, May 29, is the opening game of the 2014 major series lacrosse season. Teams are playing an 18 game schedule and two rounds of playoffs prior to the Mann Cup which will be played in the center of the playoff winner.

Based on the preseason draft, graduating juniors, trades and transfers back to Ontario of some of our best players it looks like the league will be even more competitive than it was in 2013 which had a record number of overtime games, and one or two goal victories.
A new feature which will be presented in every center at least once will be exhibition games in between periods featuring representatives of the Ontario women’s box lacrosse teams. This will add enjoyment and information of how lacrosse continues to develop in Ontario.

Following is a summary of what fans can expect in the various centers.

Brampton, under coach Clem Dorazio, drafted three players in the first round in our 2014 draft. They had a total of seven players picked up in this draft. In 2013 they had a significant amount of first-year players who developed excellently and can be expected to have a significant impact in the coming season. Chad Tutton, a graduate of the Minto Cup champion Whitby juniors and Brandon Benn from Orangeville are expected to improve their offense and goaltender Alexis Buque, drafted in the first round will add to their backline strength along with record setter Anthony Cosmo.

Brooklin Redmen will continue to improve with the addition of graduating juniors from the Minto cup champion Whitby warriors, draft choices and the expected improvement of the young team that was on the floor in 2013. Zach Higgins, who had an outstanding playoff series against Peterborough, and Steve Fryer provide them with excellent goaltending. Veterans Shawn Williams, Derek Suddons and Gavin Prout will continue to provide leadership and stabilization to this young team. The Redmen, no doubt, hope to continue their battle for first-place status in the coming year.

Kitchener–Waterloo will continue their improvement in 2014. They have an excellent club defensively, a top-notch face-off man and a strong loose ball team. Offensively, they drafted in the first round Cody McMahon and in the second defender Blair Goss, both graduates of Orangeville juniors. They have also protected Dhane Smith, a junior scoring star in 2013 with Kitchener juniors. This young player played several games for Kitchener last year and showed he can score in the MSL. It is also expected that Ryan Benesch will be able to play a full season with KW and they have obtained the rights to Darryl Veltman. These type of additions can only strengthen the team in 2014.

Oakville, who had a tough start in 2013 somewhat due to the late move from Ajax and the necessity of adjustments to the new coaching staff and new arena continually improved during the season and were quite able to defeat any team if they were taken lightly. Without a doubt they were the most active club over the winter in making moves to strengthen their team. In the January draft they picked up nine players, five in the first two rounds. From Orangeville they picked up Rob Hellyer and Bradley Kri, from Whitby Graeme Hossack, Patrick Root from Burlington and Patrick Miles from Brampton. In addition, Oakville has been involved in several trades which has brought players Scott Johnston and Brad Gillies from KW, MSL rookie of the year Ethan O’Connor from Brampton and Mike Lum-Walker, Damon Edwards from Brooklin. These trades were followed up with Adam Jones moving to Peterborough and Jordan MacIntosh returning to Oakville. Top it all off with goaltender Nick Rose joining the team makes for an interesting club in Oakville.

Peterborough Lakers made what might be the story of the year when they replaced general manager Jamie Batley and some of his associates with Joe Sullivan. Batley’s winning record over the years will be a tough one to follow for Joe Sullivan. Joe has been a part of the team’s winning record and certainly no newcomer to Peterborough lacrosse. Peterborough lost out in 2013 in a seven-game series to Brooklin. They had introduced several young players to their lineup who showed that they will be a factor in the 2014 season. The trade of Macintosh to Oakville to obtain Adam Jones, an outstanding left shot, will ensure their strength on the left side if John Tavares and John Grant Junior are unable to put in full seasons. Some questions on their ability to maintain their reputation as a team to beat are out there but if their young players continue to improve they will challenge for the Mann Cup again. On floor leadership such as Tracey Kelusky, Scott Self with leading scorer Shawn Evans will insure their growth.

Six Nations Chiefs are the defending Canadian Mann Cup champions and they have no intention of turning it over to anyone else in 2014. Seemingly the Chiefs have no weaknesses in their lineup. On offense they are led by Cody Jamieson, Colin Doyle and the team that knows how to score goals. Defensively Rory Smith, Sid Smith, and others provide awesome protection for goaltenders Evan Kirk and Brandon Miller. Coach Rich Kilgour and his assistants have continually improved this team and the addition of graduating Six Nations juniors will continue to make them the team to beat.

For great summer enjoyment along with the excitement of extremely competitive teams lacrosse fans are in for a treat during the 2014 MSL season.

First half of season provides competitiveness and excitement

June 28, 2013

Wow!! What a competitive season the MSL is having! In the first 23 games we have had four overtime matches, two of which ended up in ties, seven one goal games and another two games decided by two goals. The latter whether it's a home game or an away game there is no way predicting the result and the play on the floor is fast, exciting and brilliant at times.

With the CLA invoking new rules on the player's masks and fighting penalties which were unwelcome and caused adjustments to every teams approach to the game. Clubs are adjusting to these rules.

The outstanding play of Shawn Evans with the Lakers has led them to first place even though key players such as John Grant, Jr., John Tavares and Tracy Kelusky and others are not playing yet. Six Nations have only lost 1 game to date and are showing awesome defense to go with their usual high powered offense.

Brooklin, Oakville and Kitchener Waterloo are all playing high-speed games with many breakout goals. Brampton are struggling at this time but mostly because they have not been able to get their full crew out to games as of yet

With the second half of the season just starting and the games so close picking the four playoff teams will be an impossibility. The only thing sure is that MSL games will continue to be the most exciting lacrosse that spectators can see.  

It's go time: 2013 MSL season ready to face off

May 20, 2013

At long last the Major Series Lacrosse league opens their 2013 schedule on Thursday, May 23 in Peterborough home of the Canadian Mann cup champions. The visitors will be the Brampton Excelsiors, who have over the years had many competitive battles with the Lakers. We also have opening games in Six Nations on Saturday, in Brooklin on Sunday, in Oakville on Monday, and Kitchener-Waterloo and Brampton on Tuesday. At this point, all teams will have started their seasons and have had at least one home game.

To date, 10 trades have taken place as the teams prepare for the season. Oakville, under new general manager Terry Sanderson, added Toronto Rock star Stephan LeBlanc to their lineup, along with others. Kitchener-Waterloo was involved in a major goaltending trade with Six Nations. Evan Kirk went to the Chiefs and Mike Poulin joined the Kodiaks. Peterborough Lakers traded for Stephen Hoar and gave up Mike Hobbins and Gavin Prout to the Redmen. The Lakers added defensive skills and a face-off specialist while Brooklin brought back long-time scoring leader Gavin Prout. Brampton Excelsiors will open the season with a brand-new coaching staff led by Clem Dorazio.

 The MSL league owners are quite concerned over the introduction of the new face masks. These facemasks are relatively untried and the concern is over possible chin and throat injuries. The Ontario Lacrosse Association has clearly ordered the use of these masks and will not let players play with any other kind. The league will abide with the directions from the OLA president.

New rules on penalties for fighting have also been introduced and, although the teams do not feel that this change is necessary due to the few fighting incidents in our league we will wait and see how these rules are interpreted by the officials.

 The opening week will provide an exciting look at the wide-open competition we expect in 2013. With a full 20 game schedule and only four teams in the playoffs we know the fans will appreciate watching what is considered the best indoor lacrosse in the world.

Just over a month till Major Series Lacrosse is Back

April 17, 2013
 As our teams prepare for the 2013 season a few trades have been made and signings are going on. A concern has come up because of the number of players transferring to the Western Lacrosse League and the few coming our way. Over twenty (20) players are on their way west and very few returning. It always amazes me that without any "contacts" these players know who to go to. No question in my mind that if transferred players stayed in OLA we would be stronger in MSL and SR. B.

The Ajax transfer to Oakville is going very well and Oakville lacrosse fans will see a very competitive team play against the many of the best players in the world in our own MSL league. In my opinion we now have a league in which no game at anytime will be a sure thing and the fans will be the winners.
Jim Brady

A Fantastic 2013 Season Approaches
March 26, 2013

Welcome all fans to the 2013 major series lacrosse season. Many things are happening already and if we are able to put them together we will probably have the most competitive league that major lacrosse has ever had.

We debated the pros and cons of a longer schedule and by a vote it was decided to increase the season to 20 games with each team having a double home and home against each other. It was also decided that only the top four teams would make the playoffs. Our draft was completed and several top Junior stars have indicated their willingness to participate with their drafting teams in 2013.

One of the most exciting things to come forward at our meeting in early March was a request by the Ajax Rock to move their franchise to Oakville. This was not expected earlier in the year and a full discussion of the league governors resulted in an approval for this move subject to OLA approval. Ajax already have letters of approval from the Oakville minors, Oakville Junior Bs, and a supportive letter from the Burlington Junior As. At this point Ajax does not have an agreement with the Oakville Titans Senior B club (formerly Wellington 2011) and are attempting to resolve concerns Oakville Bs might have.

Despite the lateness of the Ajax request the governors feel that a team in a field at the major level will be a very positive step for our league. While the team in Ajax was doing their best to attract fans, to attract players and to attract sponsors it was a difficult job due to the well-established lacrosse teams at all levels in the Durham region. Oakville is a desirable location for major lacrosse as it provides opportunities for the many Oakville graduating Junior Bs and minors in the nearby Burlington and Hamilton graduating juniors. Since the demise of St. Catharine's, Southwest Ontario has had no representation in majors.

It is hoped that the OLA will resolve this situation for lacrosse fans in southwestern Ontario this week.

Items of interest already in this season include a league game being played in Kingston between Peterborough and Kitchener-Waterloo. The game is being promoted by Kingston minor lacrosse and the Kitchener organization. It will be played on Saturday, June 16. It is expected that the enthusiasm being generated for the appearance of the Canadian lacrosse champions from Peterborough will aid in a possible sellout in the beautiful new arena in Kingston.

Another announcement that I have the privilege of making is our league will have a trophy in 2013 for the most valuable player the league playoffs. We owe this trophy to a gentleman named Wayne Dominick from Peterborough who is going to contribute an excellent trophy to our league. He has suggested that we name the trophy after one of our longest participating star players, and that is "John Tavares". I advised him that the board of governors may have someone else in mind but would give top consideration to his recommendation. He assured me that the trophy would be given regardless of the player's name given to it.

It is our league's contention that we will operate an up-to-date site on all league operations in 2013 and we will welcome comments from our fans.

Jim Brady MSL Commissioner